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Manchester United all but guaranteed their passage to the round of 16 last Thursday with an emphatic 4-0 win in Turin, meaning that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to rest key players ahead of a crucial clash with Chelsea on Sunday.
Solskjaer will surely give talisman Bruno Fernandes a well-deserved break considering United haven’t had a full week’s rest since before Christmas. This is a chance for some of United’s fringe players to make an impact against a Real Sociedad side that will have more than one eye on a crucial meeting with Real Madrid on Monday.
The Basque side will be playing for pride at Old Trafford, and the chances of United inflicting a similar thrashing are incredibly low, but Sociedad are also likely to rest players with the tie dead and buried and United should have just about enough to secure a rather meaningless win.
Greenwood hasn’t managed to match the impressive numbers he recorded in his break-out season last year, but his all-round game has undeniably improved and the goals will come again sooner rather than later.
The 19-year-old forward has just signed a new contract with United and is likely to lead the line on Thursday with Edinson Cavani still struggling for fitness and Marcus Rashford surely in line for a night off. Greenwood boosted his goalscoring profile in last season’s Europa League, scoring five times during United’s run to the last four of the competition.
He has a great opportunity to rediscover his goalscoring touch in a non-pressure environment on Thursday.
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Manchester United have remarkably scored more goals than Manchester City in the league this season, but they have also conceded 17 more goals than the runaway league leaders. Solskjaer’s side seem to have lost the ability to defend this season compared to last year when they were relatively resolute at the back.
United boasted the third-best defensive record in the league last season, conceding just one goal more than City and three goals more than Liverpool. They have conceded the same number of goals as relegation-threatened Fulham during this campaign and have conceded just four fewer goals than they did in their entire league campaign last season.
The Red Devil’s defence is often all at sea and presented Sociedad with several gilt-edged chances in Turin last week. It’s hard to see them keeping a second clean sheet in a week, meaning that they will have to score twice to claim victory at Old Trafford.
United have started sluggishly in their last three games in all competitions, conceding early on against West Brom and offering both Newcastle and Sociedad decent sights at goal.
Newcastle had by far the better chances in the opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford on Sunday as United failed to get up to the pace of the game, while Sociedad could have been ahead inside two minutes.
Solskjaer desperately needs to address United’s first half defensive issues before his side’s trip to Stamford Bridge at the weekend, but Sociedad may be able to take advantage of lax defending to strike a blow inside the opening half.
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